(Zurzach) Aargau, Switzerland.
On the left bank of the Rhine, ca. 30 km N of Zurich,
and mentioned in the Peutinger Table
. The site is at the
confluence of the Aare and the Rhine, where a pre-Roman trade route from the Helvetian plateau to the Danube crossed the Rhine. It is probably one of the 12
towns mentioned by Caesar (BGall
. 1.5.2). During the
1st c. A.D. a detachment of the legions garrisoned at
Vindonissa, 13 km to the S, guarded the bridge and the
highway on the left bank. Throughout the 2d and 3d c.
the post was probably occupied by beneficiarii, and in
the 4th c. a double fortress was added, and a bridgehead
on the right bank at Rheinheim. After the departure of
the garrison, ca. A.D. 401, the main fort was used as a
refuge from the raids of the Alamanni, and in the 5th c.
a church and a baptistery were built in it. At Mittskirch
there is a Late Iron Age cemetery belonging to the
The site is on a terrace rising steeply above the Rhine
in an originally swampy region. The road to the bridge
runs along a natural depression in the plateau which
separates the elevations carrying the late Roman forts.
The foundations of piles for two bridges, one probably
pre-Roman, are visible when the water is low. The older
bridge was carried on wooden piles, the other on four
stone piles. The 1st c. fortification was built on the
higher hill, Kirchenbuck, 20 m above the Rhine, but
any remains were probably destroyed by the later fort.
A small bath (28 x 10 m; 5 rooms) in the low part of
the site was probably built by the 1st c. garrison, but
used until the 4th c. Little is known of the vicus which spread inland at Brückliäcker and lies under the mediaeval town. It probably developed on both sides of the Roman road, which ran S from the river.
In the 4th c. a fort was built on each of the two hills.
They were connected by a wall through which the road
passed, and side walls ran down to landing places on the
river. No remains of these have yet been found. The
smaller fort on Sidelen (area 1480 sq. m) is rhomboid
(ca. 50 m on a side), with four round corner towers.
Its foundations survived until the late 19th c., but nothing is visible today. Inside it a stone casemate was built
along the W wall. The larger fort on Kirchenbuck has
an irregular plan, owing to the configuration of the hill
and perhaps also to earlier building periods. The longest
straight side, facing the Rhine, is 100 m, the width 50-70
m (area 4900 sq. m). The five corner towers are round,
while the others are semicircular outside and angular inside; they are massive up to the sentry walk. The buildings inside were of wood.
In the 5th c. an almost square church (16 m the
side) with apse and a baptistery were built inside the
fortress. This is important proof for the survival of the
old Roman Christian population on the site of a late
Roman fortification through the migration period. The S
wall with 5 towers and the sanctuary may be visited.
The Messe- und Bezirksmuseum in Höfli is in Zurzach.
(See also Limes, Rhine.)
J. Heierli, “Das römische Kastell Burg
bei Zurzach,” AnzSchweiz
9 (1907) 23-32, 83-93PI
Hüsser, “Das Römerbad in Zurzach,” Argovia
52 (1940) 265ffP
; F. Staehelin, Die Schweiz in römischer Zeit
(3d ed. 1948) 52-53, 169-70, 182-84, 622; V. von Gonzenbach, BonnJbb
63 (1963) 106-7; Archaeologia Helvetica
1 (1970) 45-54PI
; church: R. Laur-Belart, “Eine frühchristliche Kirche mit Baptisterium in Zurzach,” UrSchweiz
19 (1955) 65-90PI
; id., “Em zweites frühchristliches Kultgebaude in Zurzach,” ibid. 25 (1961) 40-57PI
; recent excavations: Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte
46 (1957) 149; 50 (1963) 89-91PI
; 53 (1966-67) 160-62; Jber. Gesell. Pro Vindonissa
V. VON GONZENBACH